Moscow- Talal al-Otaibi, an aide to the Saudi defense minister, on 16 August, met with the Deputy Chief of Staff of Iran’s armed forces, Aziz Nasirzadeh, on the sidelines of the 11th Moscow Conference on International Security.
Coming a few months after the two nations normalized ties under a Chinese-brokered agreement, this marked the first-ever meeting between Iranian and Saudi officials.
According to the Saudi defense ministry, the officials reviewed bilateral relations in the defense and security fields and ways to improve them. Iranian state-run news outlet IRNA also reported that the officials agreed to exchange military attachés “as soon as possible.”
The historic meeting occurred one day before the Iranian Foreign Minister set off on an official trip to the Saudi capital Riyadh, where he is scheduled to meet his Saudi counterpart Prince Faisal bin Farhan.
This is the first trip by Iran’s top diplomat to the kingdom since the signing of the détente in March. Iran’s new ambassador to Riyadh, Alireza Enayati, will also officially begin his mission during Amir-Abdollahian’s visit.
In June, an Iranian navy official revealed that the Islamic Republic, alongside Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, Iraq, Pakistan, and India, is looking to form a “naval alliance” to boost security in the northern Indian Ocean.
Two weeks after this announcement, Bin Farhan visited Tehran, where he met with Iranian officials and had this to say about the possible naval alliance, “I would like to refer to the importance of cooperation between the two countries on regional security, especially the security of maritime navigation … and the importance of cooperation among all regional countries to ensure that it is free of weapons of mass destruction.”
“Iran has never equated security with militarism but sees it as a broad concept including political, cultural, social, economic, and trade aspects,” Amir-Abdollahian said during the same news conference.
Despite the growing cooperation between Iran and Saudi Arabia, tensions have recently arisen over a disputed gas field in Gulf waters.
Furthermore, the kingdom is currently the target of a charm offensive from the US and Israel, who hope to see Saudi officials put pen to paper on a normalization agreement with Tel Aviv.
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